Back by popular demand: Check out the newest version of our Content Marketing Playbook!
Last week, we shared Part 1 of our best practices guide, Building the Perfect Content Marketing Mix, in which we explored some of content marketing’s top-priority internal processes and strategy tactics. In this second installment, we take a closer look at the execution tactics that make it easier to implement content marketing effectively and meet your business objectives more successfully.
Though we always recommend starting off every content marketing program with a documented strategy, eventually we all need to move past the theoretical decision-making and process-planning phase and really get to work.
Of course, successful content marketing has a lot of moving parts, which can make it easy to fall into a second-guessing game when it comes to trying new marketing techniques in your organization. To alleviate some of this uncertainty, we thought it would be helpful to know which tactics your peers are currently prioritizing. Ultimately, it’s the practical, day-to-day steps you take – such as selecting the most useful topics, creating compelling visuals, supporting your content with the right distribution and promotion, and tailoring your efforts to the preferences of your target audience – that truly determine the level of success your content marketing program can achieve.
Like Part 1, our insights here were gathered from the responses to this year’s Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Research reports and highlight the initiatives that marketers are working on now, as well as what they plan to focus their efforts on in the upcoming year.
Let’s take a look at some of the top execution tactics that marketers should all have on their playlists.
Content quality is a top priority for most marketers
It’s no surprise that one of the top tactics on which most marketers across business types and regions are focused is “creating more engaging/higher-quality content.” Of the marketers we surveyed, 60% to 70% are focusing on this tactic now, with the remainder planning to work on it in the next 12 months. These figures point to a milestone in content marketing’s evolution as a discipline: Not only are companies recognizing that they may need to create more engaging content to deliver on audience expectations, they are acknowledging that this content also needs to be of a high enough quality to break through the noise and stand apart from that of the competition.
Performing a content audit is an important first step in creating higher-quality content overall. One recommendation we can offer on this is to take the time to catalog all your existing pieces of content and track how each piece has performed. This exercise can provide valuable insights as to what content resonates best with your target audience. All too often, a content strategy can try to do too much at once. So by discovering what you’re really doing well through the auditing process, you can gain a better understanding of what to focus on — and what to leave behind.
Visual content continues to rise in popularity
With the content landscape as cluttered as it is, marketers should always be on the lookout for compelling ways to present their content without overwhelming the audience with a lot of unnecessary noise. This is one of the many reasons why visual content has been taking off over the last few years – and possibly why almost all the marketers we surveyed reported it as a top focus, with about 60% working on this now and an additional 20% working on this tactic in the next 12 months.
Of course, without deep design expertise in-house, it can often be challenging to find the best ways to create and deliver stand-out visual content. Here are a few key tips we’ve gathered from the experts to help get you started in the right direction:
- Be unique and avoid using stock photography whenever possible.
- Use compelling visual cues to inspire audiences to think about your offerings in unique ways.
- Consider providing a platform that allows consumers to contribute their own thoughts, images, and ideas on your products, and how they can be enjoyed.
Real-time and user-generated content is popular, but perplexing
While user-generated content and real-time marketing are popular buzzwords in the trades, this year’s survey results indicate that these tactics haven’t yet gained mass appeal among content marketers. With the exception of B2C marketers in North America, only a small number of respondents reported that they are focusing on this tactic now – though a slightly higher percentage (~30%) are looking to approach this tactic in the next 12 months.
Similarly, for real-time marketing, only about half of marketers surveyed are working on this tactic now or are planning to in the next 12 months, though once again, B2C companies in North America seem to be adopting this more readily than other marketers.
For those companies looking to implement more real-time techniques in the year ahead, there are some simple tools that can help. For example, even the most basic social listening tools can help you monitor what consumers are saying about your products (and industry in general) at any given time. Setting up listening “buckets” (or search categories) allows you to quickly sort through those conversations and identify key trends and themes, which can help you interact more rapidly and responsively.
Other essential tracks in the content execution playlist
Check out the full SlideShare presentation above to learn more about the execution tactics that are at the top of the priority list among your content marketing peers, including:
- Ways to leverage paid-promotion techniques for your content
- The marketing-automation and lead-nurturing tactics that are being implemented by more than 50% of marketers
- Tips for creating a greater variety of content types and formats
- Tricks for optimizing your website content – a tactic about which the majority of marketers seem to be concerned
Our hope is that these findings and tips inspire you to find the right mix of content marketing tactics that will help your company find its groove for 2015 and beyond.
Looking to score big points with your target audience? CMI’s 2016 Content Marketing Playbook has tips, insights, and ideas that can help increase your success with 24 of the top content marketing tactics
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute